How to Help Your Teen Find a Job

1
How Much Should You Help Your Teen With the Job Hunt?

waitress in mexican restaurant
Todd Warnock/Getty Images

For most of us, job hunting is a daunting task rife with rejections and dead ends before it yields the prize of employment. For a teenager looking for his or her first job, this is only intensified. And so as a parent, you naturally want to help your teen find a job. But what kind of help should you give?

When helping teenagers find a job, parents should remember that the kids need to do most of the legwork. Parents should be coaches who give feedback, ideas and encouragement, not the person filling out applications or making phone calls. You will not be there when your child is actually on the job. Your teen will have to solve problems, ask questions and navigate workplace hurdles without you, so the job search process is the place to start reinforcing those skills.

2
Considering the Pros and Cons of Employment First

Girl working in bakery looking away smiling
Emma Kim/Getty Images

It isn’t just finding a job that can be tough for your teen; it’s finding the right job. Success at your child’s first job can be a huge confidence booster that will help in other parts of life, such as school. And, well, failure at a job--while it can still be an important learning experience--will not likely have the same benefits.  So help set your child up for success by carefully thinking this endeavor through first.

Timing - Does your child have the time for a job? Will he or she have to quit when sports season starts or for a family vacation? A job that only lasts a month is not impressive on the resume.

Schedule - If your teen’s schedule is already packed tight, then something might have to go to make a job a reality. Employers rarely want to train someone who can only work occasionally. Summer can be the ideal time for teens to get a job. Kids can take on more hours at that time and be trained for the job. During the school year, they can reduce hours or even quit.

Your Area’s Job Market - Some areas will have plenty of entry-level jobs for teens and others won’t. Assess what kind of work is available and talk with your teen about their prospects and the time it might take.

Transportation - How will your teen get to and from the job? 

Your Teen’s Skills and Interests - Many first jobs are not all that interesting, and this may well be the case for your child. That being said, try to pinpoint your teen’s traits that would be valued in different positions:

  • Good with small children > babysitting

  • Outgoing and talkative > sales or a cashier

  • Interested in fashion > retail clothes outlet

  • Enjoys the outdoors > lifeguard

3
Writing a Resume for a Teen

Making a resume for a teen
Caiaimage/Robert Daly/Getty Images

Most employers that hire teens are probably going to want them to fill out an online application or even a paper one. A printed resume brought to a job interview may never get looked at. However, a resume is an absolute must. First, it might be wanted, so they should have one handy.

The most important thing, though, about a resume is the act of creating it. By listing all the things he or she has accomplished so far, your teen will get little ego boost. It will also help teens develop talking points about their skills and experiences. The same is true of a cover letter. There's a good chance it's not needed but by writing it your teen will be focusing their thoughts about why they are right for a particular job.

Accomplishments or skills to add to a teen's resume:

  • Previous work experience, including casual jobs like babysitting or dog walking

  • Volunteer work

  • Grade point average (if it is good)

  • Sports or clubs

  • Talents and interests

  • References

As for the form the resume takes, browse through these resume templates for teens.

4
Finding Job Leads

Young Man Completing Paperwork in a Cafe
PamelaJoeMcFarlane/Getty Images

Parents can pitch in on finding job openings, but mostly this should be your teen's job. In some ways, they may have more connections than you. They know a network of people their own age, and many of them may have jobs. They should talk to their friends to find out if they know businesses that hire teens and are looking for help now. Guidance counselors are another good source of job leads for teens.

In addition, teens should scour the typical resources, e.g. local job boards, classifieds, etc. Another tried and true method is to simply go to the businesses they are interested in and inquire whether they are hiring. Plus check out these sites for teen job seekers.

5
Prepping for Encounters With Employers

teen job interview
Marilyn Angel Wynn/Getty Images

Employers hiring for entry-level jobs won’t likely see many teen resumes stuffed with experience and accomplishments directly applicable to the open position. And they may get multiple applicants for just one open position. So how do they decide who to hire?

Presentation place a huge role. At this level, employers are looking for candidates who listen and are eager to learn the job. They want to find reliable help who will be to work on time. These are qualities hiring managers will try to discern from attitude and presentation. Encourage your teen to:

  • Dress up and be on time.

  • Double check applications, resumes and cover letters for errors.

  • Listen carefully to what is asked by the interviewer.

  • Make eye contact and smile. 

  • Say thank you.

These are things we try to instill in our kids all the time, but in the nerve-wracking experience of applying for a job, they can be forgotten. Practicing in advance for an interview can alleviate some of the nerves. If your child is calling a potential employer, encourage them to write down what they plan to say.

6
Learning to Roll With Rejection

teen job
Dann Tardif/Getty Images

Very few people will get the first job they apply for. There will probably be quite a few unacknowledged applications or unreturned phone calls. There will even be botched interviews. These should be learning experiences that inspire persistence. 

7
After Teens Get a Job

Mother teaching daughter with credit card at laptop personal finance management on bed
Hero Images/Getty Images

When your child finally gets a job, he or she will likely come home with a stack of paperwork to be filled out. It can be confusing, but let teens fill this out themselves, advising them and explaining as necessary. Perhaps make copies before they start in case there is a need for a do-over.

Teach your child what everything on a pay stub means. Explain to them what taxes are taken out. Remind them to keep their own log of hours worked so they can be sure they are being paid properly. These are skills they will use for a lifetime.